Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jim Harbaugh Vs. Mark Jackson: Which Bay Area Coach Has the Brightest Future?

Two of the Bay Area's professional sports teams have jumped on the phenomenon of hiring young, hip coaches to run their teams. They did so in hopes of jumping the gun on the next big thing in coaching. In the case of these two coaches, the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors may have struck it rich.

Jim Harbaugh played 14 seasons in the NFL, most notable for the Chicago Bears, but his new chapter as a head coach may be the highlight of his NFL career.

After four years as head coach at the University of San Diego, Harbaugh was named to the same position at Stanford University, in hopes of turning their program around. He did just that, as well as make QB Andrew Luck a bonafide star.

This past offseason, he was tabbed by the San Francisco 49ers to become their next coach, only to be barred by the 2011 NFL Lockout.

In the case of Mark Jackson, he and Harbaugh have similar paths to the head coaching seat.

Jackson, like Harbaugh, played professionally. However, Jackson's NBA career spanned 17 seasons, and he finished third on the all-time assists list.

This is where these two professional head coaches differ on their paths to the hot seat, though.

While Harbaugh seemingly worked his way up the coaching ranks, Jackson talked his way up it as a game commentator. How that plays into their careers as professional head coaches, we will find out.

Harbaugh Vs. Jackson

However, even at the earliest point in both these men's coaching careers, we can speculate. In fact, we can easily see who has the brighter future between these two by simply noticing how they got to where they are today.

Both Harbaugh and Jackson have excellent futures as head coaches in their respective sports. Let's get that out of the way.

They are both smart, respected men with immense knowledge of the game they dominated during their playing days.

How does that translate to the sidelines, though?

The truth is it does a little, but great coaches do not just fall out of the NFL or NBA and straight to the head coaching spotlight and become great.

For head coaches to become successful, there needs to be a learning period away from the game, in a sense.

Both Jackson and Harbaugh have done that.

Harbaugh took the coaching job at the University of San Diego, where he was able to learn coaching at a lower level, and Jackson was an NBA analyst for ESPN and ABC, where he was able to analyze the game from the sidelines.

However, when it comes down to who has the brighter future as head coach in their respective sport, it comes down to experience.

Harbaugh has that.

While Jackson had the better professional career, Harbaugh resurrected the University of San Diego's football program, as well as Stanford University's elite Pac-10 program. More than anything, though, he developed Andrew Luck into an NFL quarterback while still in college.

Harbaugh will be a great coach in the NFL based on the fact he played in the NFL and coached an NFL game throughout his time as a head coach in college. Those two jobs prepared him to run an NFL game in the NFL, finally.

That is not to say Jackson cannot be a great NBA head coach in his own right.

However, it may take a little longer for him to adjust to the NBA head coaching scene, seeing as he has never coached basketball at any level.

While Harbaugh may be the better head coach in the future, Jackson may already be one step ahead.

The new Warriors' head coach has been blessed with an owner that has a passion for winning, at any costs. Jackson was given an immaculate staff of NBA coaches and advisers that can help him in his first season.

In that regard, Jackson is ahead of Harbaugh without either of them even coaching a professional game yet.

There is no telling where either of these coaches' careers will go, but the future is bright in the Bay Area for the first time in a long time.

The 49ers and Warriors have hopefully found head coaches that can lead their teams for a very long time, and both men have the preparation and knowledge to do so.

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